The recent debate in metaontology gave rise to several types of (more or less classical) answers to questions about "equivalences" between metaphysical theories and to the question whether metaphysical disputes are substantive or merely verbal (i.e. various versions of realism, strong anti-realism, moderate anti-realism, or epistemicism). In this paper, I want to do two things. First, I shall have a close look at one metaphysical debate that has been the target and center of interest of many meta-metaphysicians, namely the (...) problem of how material objects persist through time : the endurantism vs. perdurantism controversy. It has been argued that this debate is a good example of a merely verbal one, where two allegedly competing views are in fact translatable one into each other – they end up, contrary to appearances, to be equivalent. In my closer look at this debate, I will conclude that this is correct, but only to some extent, and that there does remain room for substantive disagreement. The second thing that I wish to achieve in this paper, and that I hope will stem from my considerations about the persistence debate, is to defend a metaontological view that emphasizes that when asking the question "Are metaphysical debates substantive or verbal?" the correct answer is "It depends." Some debates are substantive, some debates are merely verbal, sometimes it is true that a problem or a question can be formulated in equally good frameworks where there is no fact of the matter as to which one is correct or where we just cannot know it. Furthermore, importantly, as my examination of the persistence debate will show, there is room for the view that a debate is largely merely verbal but not entirely and that some parts of it are substantive, and decidable by philosophical methods. It is possible, and it is the case with respect to the persistence debate, that inside a debate some points are merely verbal while other are places of substantive disagreement. A moral of this is that, at the end of the day, the best way to do meta-metaphysics is to do first-level metaphysics. (shrink)
Descriptivism in the ontology of art is the thesis that the correct ontological proposal for a kind of artwork cannot show the nascent ontological conception of such things embedded in our critical and appreciative practices to be substantially mistaken. Descriptivists believe that the kinds of revisionary art ontological proposals propounded by Nelson Goodman, Gregory Currie, Mark Sagoff, and me are methodologically misconceived. In this paper I examine the case that has been made for a local form of descriptivism in the (...) ontology of art: a form that does not quarrel with the possibility of revisionism in matters of ‘fundamental metaphysics’, but which argues that special features of the arts make descriptivism in this particular sphere obligatory. David Davies, Andrew Kania and Stephen Davies are local descriptivists in this sense. I argue that the burden of proof lies with the local descriptivist, but that this burden is too heavy for him to carry. Specifically, it emerges that the only way in which the local descriptivist can motivate his position is by arguing that our artistic practices determine the art ontological facts: a thesis that local descriptivists typically appeal to, but have not been able to argue for successfully. My conclusion is that the methodological debate in the ontology of art should now proceed by focussing on the case for global descriptivism: i.e. that form of descriptivism that opposes the possibility of revisionism in ontological matters across the board. (shrink)
In Ordinary Objects, Thomasson pursues an integrated conception of ontology and metaontology. In ontology, she defends the existence of shoes, ships, and other ordinary objects. In metaontology, she defends a deflationary view of ontological inquiry, designed to suck the air out of arguments against ordinary objects. The result is an elegant and insightful defense of a common sense worldview. I am sympathetic—in spirit if not always in letter—with Thomasson’s ontology. But I am skeptical of her deflationary metaontology.
Terms such as ‘exist’, ‘actual’, etc., (hereafter, “ontic terms”) are recognized as having ontologically neutral or non-commissive uses, besides their standard commissive uses. (Consider, e.g., the two interpretations of ‘There is an even prime.’) In this paper, I identify six different non-commissive uses for ontic terms, and along the way I attempt to define (by a kind of via negativa) the commissive use of an ontic term, specifically, the commissive use of ‘actual’. The problem, however, is that the resulting definiens (...) for the commissive ‘actual’ is itself equivocal between a commissive and a non-commissive reading, and thus I consider other proposals for defining the commissive use, including two proposals from David Lewis. However, each proposal is found to be equivocal in the same way--and eventually I argue that it is impossible to define an ontic term unequivocally. Even so, this is not meant to overshadow the fact that we can understand an ontic term as univocally commissive, in certain conversational contexts. I close by applying these observations to the Hirsch-Sider debate in metaontology. (shrink)
In contemporary debates about ontology, one prominent skeptical view emphasizes the existence of different possible languages for doing ontology. Eli Hirsch, in recent years the most prominent proponent of a view like this, has defended the claim that “many familiar questions about the ontology of physical objects are merely verbal. Nothing is substantively at stake in these questions beyond the correct use of language” and the claim that “quantifier expressions can have different meaning in different languages”.1 Ted Sider, while critical (...) of the type of view Hirsch defends, has in many places prominently singled it out for critical discussion. In his (2001), he associates with Carnap the view that “different frameworks employ different semantic rules for the quantifiers”, and says that a theorist in Carnap’s tradition would say that the stuff-ontologist and the thing-ontologist have different “frameworks” and that “[W]ithin these frameworks there are answers to what there is, but any question about which framework is the right framework is metaphysical in the pejorative sense of being a pseudo-question”.2 In his (forthcoming), Sider discusses at length the view that disputants in ontological disputes use the same sentences with different meaning and hence in fact each speak the truth, and what he describes as the attendant view that “there are multiple candidate meanings for the quantifiers”.3 In his (2005), Cian Dorr critically discusses “the idea that there are many different possible languages which differ systematically in the truth-values they assign to general ontological claims”.4.. (shrink)
Can there be objects that are ‘thin’ in the sense that very little is required for their existence? A number of philosophers have thought so. For instance, many Fregeans believe it suffices for the existence of directions that there be lines standing in the relation of parallelism; other philosophers believe it suffices for a mathematical theory to have a model that the theory be coherent. This article explains the appeal of thin objects, discusses the three most important strategies for articulating (...) and defending the idea of such objects, and outlines some problems that these strategies face. (shrink)
The paper is an extended discussion of what I call the ‘dismissive attitude’ towards metaphysical questions. It has three parts. In the first part, I distinguish three quite different versions of dismissivism. I also argue that there is little reason to think that any of these positions is correct about the discipline of metaphysics as a whole; it is entirely possible that some metaphysical disputes should be dismissed and others should not be. Doing metametaphysics properly requires doing metaphysics first. I (...) then put two particular disputes on the table to be examined in the rest of the paper: the dispute over whether composite objects exist, and the dispute about whether distinct objects can be colocated. In the second part of the paper, I argue against the claim that these disputes are purely verbal disputes. In the third part of the paper, I present a new version of dismissivism, and argue that it is probably the correct view about the two disputes in question. They are not verbal disputes, and the discussion about them to date has not remotely been a waste of time. At this stage, however, our evidence has run out. I argue that neither side of either dispute is simpler than the other, and that the same objections in fact arise against both sides. (For example, the compositional nihilist does not in fact escape the problem of the many, and the one-thinger does not in fact escape the grounding problem.). (shrink)
A sense of unity -- Basic objects : a reply to Xu -- Objectivity without objects -- The vagueness of identity -- Quantifier variance and realism -- Against revisionary ontology -- Comments on Theodore Sider's four dimensionalism -- Sosa's existential relativism -- Physical-object ontology, verbal disputes, and common sense -- Ontological arguments : interpretive charity and quantifier variance -- Language, ontology, and structure -- Ontology and alternative languages.
Metaphysical theories heavily rely on the use of primitives to which they typically appeal. I will start by examining and evaluating some traditional well-known theories and I will discuss the role of primitives in metaphysical theories in general. I will then turn to a discussion of claims of between theories that, I think, depend on equivalences of primitives, and I will explore the nature of primitives. I will then claim that almost all explanatory power of metaphysical theories comes from their (...) primitives, and so I will turn to scrutinize the notion of and. (shrink)
Eli Hirsch recently suggested the metaontological doctrine of so-called "quantifier variance", according to which ontological disputes—e.g. concerning the question whether arbitrary, possibly scattered, mereological fusions exist, in the sense that these are recognised as objects proper in our ontology—can be defused as insubstantial. His proposal is that the meaning of the quanti er `there exists' varies in such debates: according to one opponent in this dispute, some existential statement claiming the existence of, e.g., a scattered object is true, according to (...) the other it is not. This paper argues that Hirsch's proposal leads into inconsistency. (shrink)
Eli Hirsch argues that metaphysical debates about material composition are merely verbal and the ontologists who take part in them are talking past each other. According to Hirsch, 'there is no uniquely best ontological language with which to describe the world', a doctrine he calls 'quantifier variance'. Hirsch argues that if we combine quantifier variance with an appeal to interpretative charity, we reach the conclusion that contemporary debates about composition are merely verbal. Much contemporary metaontological discussion has concerned Hirsch’s doctrine (...) of quantifier variance and the idea that contemporary debates within ontology might be verbal ones. In this paper, we isolate and analyze a strand in Hirsch’s thinking which has received less attention. Our first aim is to show that Hirsch has an argument for common-sense answers to questions about composition which involves neither quantifier variance nor the claim that ontological debates are merely verbal – although it does indispensably involve the notion of charity. We will show that this argument, if successful, has broader scope than the arguments on which the literature has concentrated. Our second aim is to show that Hirsch’s argument is unsuccessful. To do so, our main strategy is to grant the principle of interpretative charity to which Hirsch appeals and argue that, if properly applied, interpretative charity does not vindicate common sense. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to discuss the nature of disagreement in scientific ontologies inthe light of case studies from biology and cognitive science. I argue that disagreements in scientificontologies are usually not about purely factual issues but involve both verbal and normativeaspects. Furthermore, I try to show that this partly non-factual character of disagreement inscientific ontologies does not lead to a radical deflationism but is compatible with a “normativeontological realism.” Finally, I argue that the case studies from the (...) empirical sciences challengecontemporary metaontological accounts that insist on exactly one true way of “carving nature atits joints.”. (shrink)
When I say that my conception of metaphysics is Aristotelian, or neo-Aristotelian, this may have more to do with Aristotle’s philosophical methodology than his metaphysics, but, as I see it, the core of this Aristotelian conception of metaphysics is the idea that metaphysics is the first philosophy . In what follows I will attempt to clarify what this conception of metaphysics amounts to in the context of some recent discussion on the methodology of metaphysics (e.g. Chalmers et al . (2009), (...) Ladyman and Ross (2007)). There is a lot of hostility towards the Aristotelian conception of metaphysics in this literature: for instance, the majority of the contributors to the Metametaphysics volume assume a rather more deflationary, Quinean approach towards metaphysics. In the process of replying to the criticisms towards Aristotelian metaphysics put forward in recent literature I will also identify some methodological points which deserve more attention and ought to be addressed in future research. (shrink)
The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate that metaphysics is a necessary discipline -- necessary in the sense that all areas of philosophy, all areas of science, and in fact any type of rational activity at all would be impossible without a metaphysical background or metaphysical presuppositions. Because of the extremely strong nature of this claim, it is not possible to put forward a very simple argument, although I will attempt to construct one. A crucial issue here is what (...) metaphysics in fact is -- the nature of metaphysics. The conception of metaphysics which I support could be called Aristotelian, as opposed to Kantian: metaphysics is the first philosophy and the basis of all other philosophical and scientific inquiry. I will argue that this is indeed the most plausible conception of metaphysics. (shrink)
If anything is taken for granted in contemporary metaphysics, it is that platonism with respect to a discourse of metaphysical interest, such as fictional or mathematical discourse, affords a better account of the semantic appearances than nominalism, other things being equal. This belief is often motivated by the intuitively stronger one that the platonist can take the semantic appearances “at face-value” while the nominalist must resort to apparently ad hoc and technically problematic machinery in order to explain those appearances away. (...) -/- In this paper, I argue that, on any natural construal of “face-value”, the platonist, like the nominalist, does not in general seem to be able to take the semantic appearances at face-value. And insofar as the nominalist is forced to adopt apparently ad hoc and technically problematic machinery in order to explain those appearances away, the platonist is generally forced to adopt machinery which is at least prima facie ad hoc and technically problematic as well. One moral of the story is that the thesis that platonism affords a better account of the semantic appearances than nominalism, other things being equal, is not trivial. Another is that we should rethink our methodology in metaphysics. (shrink)
This paper defends the view that ontological questions (properly understood) are easy—too easy, in fact, to be subjects of substantive and distinctively philosophical debates. They are easy, roughly, in the sense that they may be resolved straightforwardly—generally by a combination of conceptual and empirical enquiries. After briefly outlining the view and some of its virtues, I turn to examine two central lines of objection. The first is that this ‘easy’ approach is itself committed to substantive ontological views, including an implausibly (...) permissive ontology. The second is that it, like neo-Fregean views, relies on transformation rules that are questionable on both logical and ontological grounds. Ultimately, I will argue, the easy view is not easily assailed by either of these routes, and so remains (thus far) a tenable and attractive approach. (shrink)
I argue (1) that metaphysical views of material objects should be understood as 'packages', rather than individual claims, where the other parts of the package include how the theory addresses 'recalcitant data' (such as - the denier of artifacts has to account, somehow, for the seeming truth of 'there are three pencils on my table'), and (2) that when the packages meet certain general desiderata - which all of the currently competing views *can* meet - there is nothing in the (...) world that could make one of the theories true as opposed to any of the others. (shrink)
The idea that disputes which are heated, and apparently important, may nonetheless be 'merely verbal' or 'just semantic' is surely no stranger to any philosopher. I urge that many disputes, both in and out of philosophy, are indeed plausibly considered verbal, and that it would repay us to more frequently consider whether they are so or not. Asking this question is what I call ‘The Method of Verbal Dispute’. Neither the notion nor the method of verbal dispute is new. What (...) I do here is to urge its wider application, to suggest how widespread is the phenomenon of verbal disputes, and to clarify certain misconceptions about what is, or needs to be, involved in a verbal dispute. One central claim is that verbal disputes need not be ‘merely’ verbal disputes – that often, there is a real disagreement to be had, but it is not the one suggested by the surface form of the disagreement. I also discuss the relation between verbal disputes, relativism and cases in which ‘there is no fact of the matter’. (shrink)
In what does philosophical progress consist? 'Vertical' progress corresponds to development within a specific paradigm/framework for theorizing (of the sort associated, revolutions aside, with science); 'horizontal' progress corresponds to the identification and cultivation of diverse paradigms (of the sort associated, conservativism aside, with art and pure mathematics). Philosophical progress seems to involve both horizontal and vertical dimensions, in a way that is somewhat puzzling: philosophers work in a number of competing frameworks (like artists or mathematicians), while typically maintaining that only (...) one of these is correct (like scientists). I diagnose this situation as reflecting that we are presently quite far from the end of inquiry into philosophical methodology. The good news is that we appear to be making advances on this score. The bad news is that failure to recognize or make explicit that our standards are in flux often leads to dogmatism, as I illustrate by attention to three assumptions presently operative in metaphysical and metametaphysical contexts. I close by identifying a tension between vertical and horizontal progress in philosophy, and suggesting an updated version of Carnap's principle of tolerance for new philosophical forms. (shrink)
I discuss David Chalmers’ “scrutability thesis,” roughly that a Laplacean intellect could know every truth about the universe from a “compact class” of basic truths. It is argued that despite Chalmers’ remarks to the contrary, the thesis is problematic owing to quantum indeterminacy. Chalmers attempts to “frontload” various principles into the compact class to help out. But though frontloading may succeed in principle, Chalmers does not frontload enough to avoid the problem.
Metaphysics is concerned with the foundations of reality. It asks questions about the nature of the world, such as: Aside from concrete objects, are there also abstract objects like numbers and properties? Does every event have a cause? What is the nature of possibility and necessity? When do several things make up a single bigger thing? Do the past and future exist? And so on. -/- Metametaphysics is concerned with the foundations of metaphysics. It asks: Do the questions of metaphysics (...) really have answers? If so, are these answers substantive or just a matter of how we use words? And what is the best procedure for arriving at them—common sense and conceptual analysis? Or assessing competing hypotheses with quasi-scientific criteria? -/- This volume gathers together sixteen new essays that are concerned with the semantics, epistemology, and methodology of metaphysics. My aim is to introduce these essays within a more general (and mildly opinionated) survey of contemporary challenges to metaphysics . (shrink)
What are the ontological commitments of a sentence? In this paper I offer an answer from the perspective of the truthmaker theorist that contrasts with the familiar Quinean criterion. I detail some of the benefits of thinking of things this way: they include making the composition debate tractable without appealing to a neo-Carnapian metaontology, making sense of neo-Fregeanism, and dispensing with some otherwise recalcitrant necessary connections.
The basic question of ontology is “What exists?”. The basic question of metaontology is: are there objective answers to the basic question of ontology? Here ontological realists say yes, and ontological anti-realists say no. (Compare: The basic question of ethics is “What is right?”. The basic question of metaethics is: are there objective answers to the basic question of ethics? Here moral realists say yes, and moral anti-realists say no.) For example, the ontologist may ask: Do numbers exist? The (...) Platonist says yes, and the nominalist says no. The metaontologist may ask: is there an objective fact of the matter about whether numbers exist? The ontological realist says yes, and the ontological anti-realist says no. Likewise, the ontologist may ask: Given two distinct entities, when does a mereological sum of those entities exist? The universalist says always, while the nihilist says never. The metaontologist may ask: is there an objective fact of the matter about whether the mereological sum of two distinct entities exists? The ontological realist says yes, and the ontological anti-realist says no. Ontological realism is often traced to Quine (1948), who held that we can determine what exists by seeing which entities are endorsed by our best scientiﬁc theory of the world. In recent years, the practice of ontology has often presupposed an ever-stronger ontological realism, and strong versions of ontological realism have received explicit statements by Fine (this volume), Sider (2001; this volume), van Inwagen (1998; this volume), and others. (shrink)
Particularists in material-object metaphysics hold that our intuitive judgments about which kinds of things there are and are not are largely correct. One common argument against particularism is the argument from arbitrariness, which turns on the claim that there is no ontologically significant difference between certain of the familiar kinds that we intuitively judge to exist (snowballs, islands, statues, solar systems) and certain of the strange kinds that we intuitively judge not to exist (snowdiscalls, incars, gollyswoggles, the fusion of the (...) my nose and the Eiffel Tower). Particularists frequently respond by conceding that there is no ontologically significant difference and embracing some sort of deflationary metaontology (relativism, constructivism, quantifier variance). I show -- by identifying ontologically significant differences -- that the argument can be resisted without retreating to any sort of deflationary metaontology. (shrink)
In (2001), (2003), and elsewhere, Ted Sider presents two arguments concerning the existential quantifier which are justly central to the recent discussion of metaontology. What we will call Sider's indeterminacy argument is an attempted reductio of the suggestion that the existential quantifier might be semantically indeterminate. What we will call Sider's naturalness argument is an argument for the claim that the semantic value of the existential quantifier is the most eligible existence-like meaning there is, à la David Lewis' eligibility (...) theory of meaning. We will argue that these arguments cannot be jointly maintained: Sider must give up at least one. Before arguing this, we will present Sider's two arguments in a bit more detail, and discuss their relationship. A few remarks on the broader significance of our conclusions are in order at the outset. One may think that since one successful argument for a given conclusion is sufficient the point that Sider's arguments cannot both work is purely academic. But we think that Sider's two arguments at bottom reflect different ways of thinking about metaphysics. Moreover, we think that it is only the naturalness argument that promises to deliver all that Sider wants when it comes to metaontology, and it is only the indeterminacy argument that promises to deliver all that Sider wants when it comes to ontology. (shrink)
The fictional monster Cthulhu was created by HP Lovecraft. Therefore there is some thing, Cthulhu, that Lovecraft created. Cthulhu is a fictional being, so there are fictional beings. You can’t kick a fictional being, so they are abstract. Thankfully, all of this is compatible with a sparse nominalistic ontology. What is important for the nominalist is that a world of concreta suffices to ground all truths, and fictional beings have their grounds in concrete acts of interpretation. Or so I will (...) argue. Along the way we’ll deal with indeterminate identity of fictional characters, as well as making some general remarks about metaontology. (shrink)
Analytic philosophy is once again in a methodological frame of mind. Nowhere is this more evident than in metaphysics, whose practitioners and historians are actively reflecting on the nature of ontological questions, the status of their answers, and the relevance of contributions both from other areas within philosophy (e.g., philosophical logic, semantics) and beyond (notably, the natural sciences). Such reflections are hardly new: the debate between Willard van Orman Quine and Rudolf Carnap about how to understand and resolve ontological questions (...) is widely seen as a turning point in 20th-century analytic philosophy. And indeed, this volume is occasioned by the fact that the deflationary approach advocated by Carnap that debate is once again attracting considerable interest and support. Containing ten original and previously unpublished essays by many of today's leading voices in metametaphysics, Ontology After Carnap aims both to deepen our understanding of Carnap's contributions to metaontology and to explore how this legacy might be mined for insights into the contemporary debate. Contributors: Richard Creath, Matti Eklund, Simon Evnine, Eli Hirsch, Thomas Hofweber, Kathrin Koslicki, Robert Kraut, Greg Lavers, Alan Sidelle, Amie Thomasson, Jessica Wilson & Stephen Biggs. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop a criticism to a method for metaontology, namely, the idea that a discourse’s or theory’s ontological commitments can be read off its sentences’ truth-conditions. Firstly, I will put forward this idea’s basis and, secondly, I will present the way Quine subscribed to it (not actually for hermeneutical or historic interest, but as a way of exposing the idea). However, I distinguish between two readings of Quine’s famous ontological criterion, and I center the focus on (...) (assuming without further discussion the other one to be mistaken) the one currently dubbed “ontological minimalism”, a kind of modern Ockhamism applied to the mentioned metaontological view. I show that this view has a certain application via Quinean thesis of reference inscrutability but that it is not possible to press that application any further and, in particular, not for the ambitious metaontological task some authors try to employ. The conclusion may sound promising: having shown the impossibility of a semantic ontological criterion, intentionalist or subjectivist ones should be explored. (shrink)
It is common for contemporary metaphysical realists to adopt Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment while at the same time repudiating his ontological pragmatism. Drawing heavily from the work of others--especially Joseph Melia and Stephen Yablo--I will argue that the resulting approach to metaontology is unstable. In particular, if we are metaphysical realists, we need not accept ontological commitment to whatever is quantified over by our best first-order theories.
Review of G. Duke: Dummett onObjects References G. Frege. Über Sinn und Bedeutung. Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, 100, 25–50, 1892. Translated in G.Frege, Collected Papers on Mathematics, Logic and Philosophy, edited by B. McGuinness. Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 157–77. G. Frege. Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik. Breslau, Verlag von W. Koebner, 1884. Translated by J.L. Austin as The Foundations of Arithmetic, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, second revised edition 1953. M. Dummett. Frege: Philosophy of Language. London, Duckworth, 1973. M. Dummett. Frege: Philosophy (...) of Mathematics. London: Duckworth, 1991. B. Hale. Abstract Objects. Oxford: Basil Blackwells, 1987. B. Hale. Dummett's critique of Wright's attempt to resuscitate Frege. Philosophia Mathematica 2 (2):122–47 , 1994 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/philmat/2.2.122 B. Hale and C. Wright. The Reason's Proper Study: Essays towards a Neo-Fregean Philosophy of Mathematics. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001. B. Hale and C. Wright. The Metaontology of Abstraction. In D. Chalmers, D. Manley & R. Wasserman, editors, Metametaphysics: New essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 178–213, 2009. C. Wright. Frege’s Conception of Numbers as Objects. Scots Philosophical Monographs. Aberdeen, Aberdeen University Press, 1983. (shrink)
Stephen Yablo has argued for metaontological antirealism: he believes that the sentences claiming or denying the existence of numbers (or other abstract entities or mereological sums) are inapt for truth valuation, because the reference failure of a numerical singular term (or a singular term for an abstract entity or a mereological sum) would not produce a truth value gap in any sentence containing that term. At the same time, Yablo believes that nothing similar applies to singular terms that aim to (...) refer to an entity whose existence or non-existence is a factual matter, e.g. ‘the king of France’: the failure of the presupposition that there is a unique French king makes some sentences with the term ‘the king of France’, in particular “The king of France is bald”, gappy. In this paper I will show that the sentence “The king of France is bald” must be false, and not gappy, according to Yablo’s own criteria and that, furthermore, the presupposition that the term ‘the king of France’ refers presents a fail-safe mechanism in the same way Yablo thinks abstract presuppositions do—this undermines his argument for metaontological antirealism. (shrink)
In this paper I further elucidate and defend a metaontological position that allows you to have a minimal ontology without embracing an error-theory of ordinary talk. On this view 'there are Fs' can be strictly and literally true without bringing an ontological commitment to Fs. Instead of a sentence S committing you to the things that must be amongst the values of the variables if it is true, I argue that S commits you to the things that must exist as (...) truthmakers for S if it is true. I rebut some recent objections that have been levelled against this metaontological view. (shrink)
There is currently debate between deflationists and anti-deflationists about the ontology of persisting objects. Some deflationists think that disputes between, for example, four-dimensionalists (e.g. Ted Sider and David Lewis) and quasi-nihilists (e.g. Peter Van Inwagen and Trenton Merricks) are merely verbal disputes. Anti-deflationists deny this. Eli Hirsch is a deflationist who maintains that many ontological disputes are merely verbal. Theodore Sider maintains that the disputes are not merely verbal. Hirsch and Sider are thus engaged in a metaontological dispute. In this (...) paper, I argue that Hirsch's metaontological dispute with Sider is, by Hirsch's own lights, itself merely verbal. I conclude that the mere verbalness of his metaontological dispute with Sider suggests that Hirsch's account of what makes a dispute merely verbal may be problematic. (shrink)
It is a common assumption in the metaphysics of time that a commitment to presentism entails a commitment to serious presentism, the view that objects can exemplify properties or stand in relations only at times at which they exist. As a result, non-serious presentism is widely thought to be beyond the bounds for the card-carrying presentist in response to the problem of cross-temporal relations. In this paper, I challenge this general consensus by examining one common argument in favor of the (...) thesis that presentism entails serious presentism. The argument, I claim, begs the question against non-serious defenders in failing to account for their wider metaontological views concerning non-committal quantification. (shrink)
Theodore Sider in his latest book provides a defense of the substantivity of the first-order ontological debates against recent deflationary attacks. He articulates and defends several realist theses: (a) nature has an objective structure, (b) there is an objectively privileged language to describe the structure, and (c) ontological debates are substantive. Sider’s defense of metaontological realism, (c), crucially depends on his realism about fundamental languages, (b). I argue that (b) is wrong. As a result, Sider’s metaontological realism fails to establish (...) the substantivity of certain ontological disputes. Nonetheless, I will argue denying metaontological realism does not require giving up on the realism about structure, (a), that most of us would like to preserve: namely the idea that there are objective similarities and differences in the world that we try to wrap our minds around. (shrink)
Kris McDaniel (2009). Ways of Being. In David John Chalmers, David Manley & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press.score: 1.0
There are many kinds of beings – stones, persons, artifacts, numbers, propositions – but are there also many kinds of being? The world contains a variety of objects, each of which exists – but do some objects exist in different ways? The historically popular answer is yes. This answer is suggested by the Aristotelian slogan that “being is said in many ways”, and according to some interpretations is Aristotle’s view.1 Variants of this slogan were championed by medieval philosophers, such as (...) Aquinas, who worried that God cannot be said to exist in the same sense (or in the same way?) as created things.2 Descartes alluded to the medievals’ worry, but extensive discussion of the problem of being disappeared from the central stage by the time of the modern period.3 However, in the early 20th century, friends of ways of being included Alexius Meinong (1910: 49- 62), G.E. Moore (1903: 161-163), Russell (1912: 91-100), Husserl (1901: 249-250), and Heidegger (1927).4 In what follows, I develop a meta-ontological theory based on the work of Martin Heidegger circa Being and Time. I take Heidegger’s work as my inspiration because of the historical importance of Heidegger’s philosophy, and because Heidegger provides a particularly clear statement of the doctrine that there are many ways to be. I begin by carefully discussing and then formulating the relevant aspects of Heidegger’s metaontological theory. Heidegger claims both that the word “being” has many meanings and that there are different ways in which things exist. Section 2 explicates the former thesis, as well as elucidates the connection between senses of “being” and quantification. Most contemporary analytic metaphysicians believe that the idea that different kinds of beings can enjoy different ways of being is metaphysically bankrupt, and probably even meaningless.5 They are mistaken. In section 3, I discuss the doctrine that there are ways of being, and show how we can understand this doctrine in terms of the meta-ontological framework defended by Theodore Sider.. (shrink)
I contend that mathematical domains are freestanding institutional entities that, at least typically, are introduced to serve representational functions. In this paper, I outline an account of institutional reality and a supporting metaontological perspective that clarify the content of this thesis. I also argue that a philosophy of mathematics that has this thesis as its central tenet can account for the objectivity, necessity, and atemporality of mathematics.
Most advocates of the so-called “neologicist” movement in the philosophy of mathematics identify themselves as “Neo-Fregeans” (e.g., Hale and Wright): presenting an updated and revised version of Frege’s form of logicism. Russell’s form of logicism is scarcely discussed in this literature, and when it is, often dismissed as not really logicism at all (in lights of its assumption of axioms of infinity, reducibiity and so on). In this paper I have three aims: firstly, to identify more clearly the primary metaontological (...) and methodological differences between Russell’s logicism and the more recent forms; secondly, to argue that Russell’s form of logicism offers more elegant and satisfactory solutions to a variety of problems that continue to plague the neo-logicist movement (the bad company objection, the embarassment of richness objection, worries about a bloated ontology, etc.); thirdly, to argue that Neo- Russellian forms of neologicism remain viable positions for current philosophers of mathematics. (shrink)